The establishment of nature reserves has benefited 70 percent of China¡¯s land eco-system species, 80 percent of wild animal species and 60 percent of higher plants, and put most of the rare and endangered species of wildlife under effective protection.
China is an early signatory state to the Convention on Biological Diversity, which went into effect in 1993. With the theme ¡°protecting biodiversity is protecting humanity itself,¡± the convention is now an important program for global protection of biodiversity and sustainable development. China has always been active in international affairs related to the convention, and has exerted a positive influence on the implementation of the convention. In 1994, China's Action Plan for the Conservation of Biodiversity was drawn up, which provided guidance for various eco-environmental protection activities. In fact, China was one of the first few countries to draw up such a plan.
So far, 250 wild animal breeding centers have been built around the country, specialized in rescuing seven major species, including the giant panda and crested ibis. Some modernized genetic resources preservation facilities have been built and put into use. For instance, the China Microorganism Culture Preservation Bank has collected and protected over 90,000 living bacteria, and the China Long-Term Crop Germ Plasm Resource Preservation Bank keeps over 300,000 germ plasm materials. Such facilities have effectively protected the biological resources across China. Thanks to the active measures, the accelerated extinction of species has been initially controlled, and wildlife resources are increasing. For instance, the number of Cathay silver firs, which are known as ¡°living plant fossils,¡± was initially less than 3,000. Four nature reserves were set up to protect them. Now there are 30,000 of them in Hunan Province alone. There was only one metasequoia when it was discovered in the 1940s. After breeding and wide introduction, metasequoias have now been planted along streets of cities in China.
Initial achievements have been made in the rescue projects of endangered wild animals. By 2000, the number of giant pandas in the wild had remained stable at about 1,000, and their living environments keep getting better. To date, the China Center for the Protection of Giant Pandas located in the Wolong Nature Reserve has successfully bred 37 giant pandas, 26 of which are still alive. The number of crested ibises has increased from seven to 248, their endangered situation having been further alleviated. The number of artificially bred Chinese alligators is close to 10,000, and that of Hainan slope deer to over 700 from 26 in the early 1980s. The number of relict gulls has increased from 2,000 in 1990 to over 10,000 now. Tigers, hitherto rarely seen in the country, are now often found roaming the mountains in northeast, east and south China. There were millions of Tibetan antelopes on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in the early 20th century, but their number has shrunk to less than 75,000. To protect them from further harm, a Xining Declaration on Tibetan Antelope Protection and Trade Control has been officially issued and taken effect.
According to the Law on Wild Animal Protection, all activities aimed at destroying wild animal resources shall be punished, to death sentence in serious cases.